Michael 'Veggie' Qadir Born the son of a farmer and fought as a soldier to fight for a cause greater than any before it; that of liberation not just for an oppressed race, religion, or creed, but that of Mankind and the Earth itself. While he never got to achieve his dream, he died a free man. Not bad for some kid from Arkansas who never even finished highschool! Still, perhaps in a kinder world the man might have actually achieved such a dream. Shall we take a peek? Arkansas, Gulf States May 11th, 2055 Like most newly constructed buildings the exam room was one the man had seen plenty of times before, a consequence of the mass-produced building modules that were becoming a common sight outside of the fortified walls of the cities. The only real difference between the room and the several like it in his own home were the fact that here the walls were painted white and had colorful posters taped to them — Stop disease! Cover your sneeze! Between Michael Qadir's thighs was a long mirror that went the length of his leg, the man's pants removed to show the horrific scarring that came with being both shrapnel and acid burns. Had Qadir's other leg still been attached to him and not thrown out with all the other medical waste back in Ukraine it would have looked much the same. "How has the pain been feeling, Mr. Qadir?" The voice belonged to his physical therapist, a younger looking man of clear mixed heritage, dark curly hair contrasting heavily with the European cheekbones and piercing blue eyes. With the arrival and eventual fall of the Combine, old national borders didn't mean so much and new ones were already being drawn, but the one good thing in regards to the mass displacement of the human population was that people were forced to accept one another as actual human beings. Shaking his head, the man brought his mind back to the present, scarred face marred with the wrinkles of age giving the doctor a disapproving look. "You know I hate it when you do that, Danylo. No need to be so formal, y'know." The doctor simply smiled, shaking his head right on back at his patient. "You know very well that I need to keep a professional distance from my patients, no matter how well I know them." Unlike Michael's own Pre-War southern drawl — a dialect that was already beginning to fade away due to the mass mixing of demographics that had occurred under Combine rule, and said mixed demographics birthing and raising the first children in a decade — the doctor's own voice held only the barest traces of that rural Arkansas drawl, enunciating more cleanly. "Anyhow, yeah, it's doin' pretty good. Toes aren't twisted no more and it almost feels as if I could actually walk on it, ha!" Despite the influx of Combine derived technologies, human physiology still had that peculiar quirk that went by the name of PLS, or phantom limb syndrome. "You probably could actually, what with the new prosthetics coming out. Seems like Black Mesa had been working on more than just doomsday devices." As always with these little sessions, talk drifted toward the goings-on of the world. The ongoing hunt for the last remnants of stranded Combine forces on Earth, the border dispute between Catalonia and the newly emergent le Midi States, to more mundane things like crop-yields and local happenings. With the session gradually coming to a close, the doctor dipped his head and dropped all the formality that came with his position, speaking the one word that never ceased to warm an old man's heart. "Dad, there's been talk about re-militarizing. I don't just mean the States, but everywhere. Even after everything that's happened, is it even worth it if we're just going to get ready for the next war?" It was a fair question, Michael having fought as hard as anyone in the last war. He had done a lot of things he hadn't been proud of, things that kept him awake at night and covered him in cold sweat. Still, looking back at his son's face, a face unscarred by the buckshot or acid that had marred his own, Michael saw only a softness and innocence that had long since been stamped out in his own generation. Danylo Qadir was one of the first to be born into a world made free, hands uncalloused by neither labor nor war. He was unblemished, a child of the new world held up out of the smoke and ashes by the skeletal hands of the old generation. Offering a small smile, Michael placed a fatherly hand on his son's shoulder. "Let's go home. You're mother's makin' borscht tonight." Therapy over and the clinic closed, an old soldier and a young doctor walked out into a sunset unmarred and unmenaced by the domineering grip of alien intelligences. Michael Qadir, or Veggie to what few friends were around, knew full well the answer to the question his son posed, the answer resonating through scarred tissue and aching bones, through a blind eye and unfeeling flesh. Some things are just worth fighting for, even dying for. Whatever small part I played, it wasn't for nothing. [OOC Line] Not everything gets to turn out the way one might hope, but in the end it is the journey and not the destination that colors the portrait of your experiences. When I first made Veggie all those years ago I never imagined that he would become the person he was, and is, today. The number of characters he has interacted with, bled with and for are innumerable, and all have colored his portrait. Had I not put my heart and soul into writing the character over the course of years, I would not have even written this post in the first place. With the character gone I feel an empty spot in my heart that I know will close with time, but for now I take solace in the fact that he was a part of the great story that was TnB's HL2 iteration. Thank you, thank you all for the amazing experiences I have had with Veggie, and may he rest in peace in that final abode of righteousness, Jannah.